Knights of Columbus: A Sad Story.. and Hope for Healing..

My understanding of the Knights of Columbus… is that one of their functions, is to help families <especially their own?> in dire circumstances, to survive… through financial donations, fund raisers, counseling… or maybe various other forms of assistance. Do I have my facts correct? Or am I off base? Here’s why I ask…

A number of years ago… my brother-in-law was in a near fatal car accident. He survived, but had sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury. He nearly died. He and my sister … endured a long, stressful recovery… during which, he was unable to work and their relationship and home life, crumbled. They had two young children , at the time.

“Greg’s” parents lived in another state. And did manage to visit them 2 or 3 times, during his recovery. But this is the disturbing thing. I found out, through my sister… that Greg’s father was a senior, ranking member of the Knights of Columbus, in his parish.

However his parents, both his father and his mother… took a very odd “position” during Greg’s recovery. Despite the presence of two young grandchildren… and Greg’s inability to work… they left my sister, Linda … to “fend” for the family… alone <she had minimal help from our mother, who wasn’t as well off, financially… as Greg’s parents. This is a fact, not an assumption>. At no time… did they offer any financial assistance, counseling or support… that would be in keeping with the work done by the Knights of Columbus.

And here is the “Wow Finish”. Greg’s father… actually INSTRUCTED our elderly, widowed mother… who was on a fixed income… to “not let them go under”. Leaving a tremendous burden on our mother, while seemingly “washing his hands” of any commitment to offer real aid to his son’s family.

End result: Greg and Linda… divorced about 6 years into the situation, despite Linda’s valiant efforts to keep them afloat. Greg did recover enough to go back to work. But the family was destroyed. They now live in different states.

The reason I’m writing this… is because my poor sister has struggled with trying to understand how her former in-laws and particularly, her father-in-law… a Knight of Columbus, in good standing… could have behaved so heartlessly? We’ve spoken about it… many times over the years. But have not been able to reconcile his behavior… with the high standards of the Knights of Columbus.

I would greatly appreciate the thoughts of any Knights of Columbus, who might read this. Because my poor sister <and frankly, me> are quite lost… in trying to process all of this. I doubt there are any steps we could or should take… after all these years. But she and her kids… are struggling with “how to forgive”.

I would hate to think that this situation would ever happen… to another family in need… as it did to my sisters family.

Well, sorry this was so long. Thank you for reading. And God bless. Fr. McGivney, pray for us.

Sadly, you sister will NEVER understand because it is impossible to understand that behaviour.

Your sister needs to accept some people are just not kind and there is nothing that can be done about them.

The only way to forgive is to pray to God to put forgiveness in her heart and acceptance that she will never understand


Some people are just mean and selfish. It sounds like Greg’s father was mean and selfish. He was not acting like a Knight. He sounds like he was self-centered.

The KofC in my experience was the total opposite of your experience, thankfully. When my DH died (he was a member), the Knights really stepped up and offered financial assistance, funeral assistance, and even came to help with yard work for some time.

Simple. The Knights of Columbus, like the Catholic Church, are comprised of men (and I speak in the general rather than the specific) who are, by definition, imperfect beings.

Being a Knight does not guarantee holiness or even decency. Neither do baptism, confirmation, Holy Orders, matrimony, or positions of authority within the Church. Regrettable, but true.

Now, in my experience, there are far more good Knights than there are bad, just as, in my experience, there are more good priests than bad, more good people than bad. Grace, like sin, is a choice. You can accept it and live a good and charitable life, or you can refuse it and behave badly.

It all comes down to freedom of will. No matter what sort of letters you have after your name, what positions you hold, or what your state in life is, you are free to choose to do good or to do evil.

It dates back to Adam, Eve, and that sodding snake. If I could go back in time, I’d use a small tactical nuclear device (my preferred method of dealing with serpents of supernatural or natural origin) to solve that problem for the rest of the human race, but that ain’t really an option at this juncture.

My point is this: people who ought to do good often don’t. That doesn’t mean that the Church isn’t established by Christ, or that She doesn’t have saints as well as sinners among her flock. It means that human beings often fail, and that only God will never do so.

I’m not sure you will find an answer to your question in this environment. I would suggest that the apparent lack of charity exhibited by your FIL is probably more related to his own positions and family dynamic rather than a a reflection of the Knights of Columbus. The Knights first principle is charity, however it’s certainly hard to pass judgement based on the scenario you provided.

What you describe is a terrible situation, but you are really only offering your own impressions of what your FIL did or didn’t do, without much information about why he did or didn’t act in a manner you feel he should have.

There’s really a couple of things we don’t know. Does your FIL have the resources that could have helped? Was there some compelling reason (right, wrong, or otherwise) that drove your FIL to choose to not offer assistance? Do we know the relationship between Greg and his parents?

There’s a lot of unanswered questions in the scenario you describe. I certainly wouldn’t want to take this scenario as an indictment of the KofC, and charity certainly suggets that we at least acknowledge there are probably facts in this case we don’t know. Relationships and family tragedies are complicated situations. I would hate to condemn anyone or the organization they belong to based on what I read here.

The Knights of Columbus is a fabulous organization who do amazing things for our communities and our Church. Like any other organization, it’s made up of fallible humans who don’t always act in accordance with our stated principles. From what you describe, it might just be that Greg’s Dad wasn’t a very charitable person.

I can’t help but wonder, if Greg’s father ever even brought up the situation with Greg’s family to the local Knights of Columbus? You can’t really question the Knights of Columbus when they may have never even known there was a need. Also, it seems you expected Greg’s father to just step up and get the local chapter involved. When it didn’t appear anything was happening, why didn’t you or your sister approach your local Knights of Columbus? Being that Greg’s parents lived in another state, the father’s chapter could have asked his group to assist, or contacted the one where Greg lived, and ask if they could help, or both. There are various ways that KoC can assist, through the local chapter’s petty cash, of which some is used to assist those in need, a fundraiser to help with a specific need for a specific person, the state chapter charity fund.

After my auto accident in 1993, I had trouble paying living expenses. I had help from my pastor and several parishioners, plus I received Temporary Cash Assistance and Food Stamps, but I still couldn’t pay the bills. A friend told me about the Knights of Columbus, and I submitted a request for assistance to pay outstanding utility bills, which they did do for me. Years later, as my mobility became more impaired, I applied to the state charity fund for help in obtaining a mobility scooter to enable me to get around more, which they did do. My experience with Knights of Columbus has been nothing but positive. I really think if you and/or your sister had approached your local KoC yourselves, rather than expecting Greg’s father to step up to the plate because of his membership in a KoC in another state, the local KoC would have assisted Greg’s family.

KoC helps family’s and individuals, they fund their assistance through petty cash, the charity fund and specific fundraisers. The petty cash and charity fund are limited to what they have in the accounts, so if those funds aren’t sufficient, they can do fundraisers to build up those funds (Think of the Lenten Fish Fry’s). The state charity fund is funded by money from the local chapters. The local chapter has applications for assistance from the state charity fund. Which source they use, depends on the particular need and how much they have available. They have helped pay outstanding bills for living expenses, to getting needed medical or mobility equipment for a disabled or chronically ill person. You really can’t fault KoC in this; it’s unfortunate that Greg’s father did not make any effort to get the KoC involved. Again, I have to ask, why didn’t you or your sister approach your local Knights of Columbus and bring up the situation with Greg and his family yourselves?

Was the local chapter contacted?

Thank you all… for your considered responses. If my original post sounded as though… I was blaming the entire organization of the Knights… for my sisters’ FIL’s non-caring attitude, I apologize. That was not my intent. We’re simply trying to understand… how this one “outstanding” Knight… could stand by and watch… as his son, DIL and 2 grandkids… suffered the destruction of their home and family unit… and do absolutely nothing for them! :frowning: (“cmscms” and “Catholic90” your replies were probably closest to the sad truth).

I guess I didn’t give enough info. Some specifics… to the question “Did FIL have the resources that could have helped?” … I did allude to that, and the answer is a resounding “yes”. Greg’s family was “well off”. Including one member who worked for a renown movie studio… and very well to do. Of his 5 siblings… only one sister was kind enough to offer my sister, Linda… a one time financial assistance of $600.00. This was to purchase some school supplies for the children… the following semester.

His mother, in particular… seemed to use the situation against Linda. It became necessary for Linda to ask them for a small loan, to get a used car ; Greg’s mother was very unkind in her response… telling Linda “You’re the one who decided to move there”. And that was that! No loan. Their accident lawyer took pity on them, and sold them his old clunker for $100.00. So it does seem that there might have been some “issue” from Greg’s mother, toward Linda <at least, at that moment>.

But here is the thing. Prior to Greg’s accident… he and my sister… DID have a very GOOD relationship and rapport with his parents . And in addition, whenever I was witness to them interacting, things always seemed fun… happy… upbeat… and normal. My sister never complained to me… of anything amiss in the family relationship. She and I are very close, so she would have said so, if something wasn’t “right”.

Considering the dire circumstances, to which Greg’s parents were eye witness <having visited 2-3 times> it seems to me… that FIL should have contacted their local chapter… on their behalf. I can’t reconcile how the sight of their son, laying comatose in bed… while his wife camped out night after night, at the hospital; with the small kids… struggled to keep the family together… did NOT resonate with them! What did they visit for… if not to HELP Greg’s family? It seems that FIL should have taken it upon himself, to contact their parish chapter… and start the ball rolling on some type of assistance for them.

Especially since, at the time, we were unaware of role of the Knights… in circumstances like these. We only found out… later. And in retrospect… were horrified at Greg’s father… not stepping up to the plate.

This is where we have struggled… and where we’re at now. Well… again, sorry this is so wordy! I was hoping for something that would help us to understand this behavior. And it seems from your responses… that this is much, much MORE about Greg’s father simply being an uncaring individual. I hate to think of people like that… being part of an organization founded for the assistance of families, though.

My sister in law is recieving a very pretigous award from the Boy Scouts this fall. One you get for volunteering lots of time to the organization, she has recieved several of these awards and she is very fond of talking about them and how honored she is.

The catch is that while she has been a very active volunteer…it has been to the lose of her family. She has never made enough money to support her family, thus my husbands parents PAY FOR EVERYTHING her kids and her need, housing, utilities, kids gas etc. Her oldest is 21 and has NEVER held a job, ever. She is not currently attending classes of any sort as she flunked out of community college. Her son nearly didn;t graduate high school, not because he is stupid, but because no one was arounf to encourage him to actually do his homework. We hosted her daughter as a house guest right after we got married and I was appalled that a 18 year old could not use silverware in the proper manner, and felt the need to demand her Grandmother sleep on the floor, because she didn’t want too. She may have put in the hours to win the award and look like a great member of the Boy Scouts, but there are major issues in the background. The same thing may be happening with your Father in Law. It’s less about the misson of the organization and more about their own self worth.

You want to understand it?

I posted my experiences with the KoC in a couple of threads recently, that mysteriously got deleted. The best explanation I got was that I just happen to belong to a bad council, that is in violation of the basic tenets of the organization. In my case, my council wouldn’t even go so far as to waive my yearly dues, let alone provide any other help. As far as I know, waiving dues doesn’t even cost them anything, and they certainly, at this point, aren’t going to be seeing it from me, even if I hit the lottery for a million tomorrow. I’ll be giving it to someone else.

The KoC, as a whole, might have some people that do some good for some people, but my council? Not for me. Your brother-in-law’s council? Not for him.

I’m so sad about your situation and you have my prayers.

Obviously I know nothing of the people involved but perhaps Greg’s father was overly scrupulous and didn’t want to have the appearance of misusing his position to help his son?

First, sorry for the loss of your husband (Catholic90). A prayer for the repose of his soul.

I think that this post hits it right on the head. I am a new member of the Knights (1st degree) and have only been in for a month now, but at our meeting last night there was talk about a committee that is responsible for bereavement and helping fellow Knight’s families that are in need of assistance in any form.

Having said that, I hate to say it, but it sounds as if Greg’s parents are responsible for their lack of assistance and not the Knights. The Knights may have never known, cause if they did, I feel that they would have stepped in to provide assistance. I am sorry that the family became divided over this and that your sister now has to struggle.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit